Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Calumet 4x5.
According to Cherie Hiser using a view camera is like having to make the bed before you make love. Using a view camera is labor intensive. My 'tiny' 4x5 Calumet w/ tripod probably weighs over 50lbs. I bought a studio rather then field model. The old Calumet model is made of steel. There are a lot more of these old heavy metal cameras available though if you don't want to invest a lot just to experiment. Field models are built of wood and weigh about half. Once you learn how to load sheet film correctly in to the film holders you are set to go. Composition is done by viewing an upside down and backwards image at the back of the camera usually under a cover to keep out light and using a magnifying eye piece for critical focusing. The front lens panel and the rear viewing panel can be adjusted up and down, tilted and manipulated to correct or distort the image. Once everything is set you place the film holder in to place in front of the frosted glass viewing screen. Take light readings, set the lens apeture, make sure to close the shutter so you don't expose the film before you take the picture. You then pull out the dark slide which covers the film and keeps it light tight now that it's ready for exposure, cock the shutter and take ONE picture. You then replace the dark slide in reverse so you know that sheet of film has been exposed pull out the film carrier turn it around and repeat the process for the other sheet of film and you now have made two exposures. I have 6 film holders so I can take twelve pictures at a time. I develop the film in my darkroom using stainless steel frames that hold the film in place and dip the film in to tanks that look like miniture car battery casings. After processing you turn on the lights and see if 'the magic worked'. Provided that you didn't load the film in backwards and properly exposed it you should have an image. If you handled the film carefully hopefully it isn't scratched or covered in finger prints. The image quality though is something to behold when you make your first print from a really large negative and get to pretend your Ansel Adams or Edward Weston.


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